Belfast Telegraph

£700k seized from gangsters on offer to Northern Ireland crime prevention projects

By Lauren Harte

Funding of £700,000 recovered from the proceeds of crime, including cars and property, is being made available to groups across Northern Ireland.

The Department of Justice is inviting public sector bodies, voluntary and community sector organisations to bid for a share of the fund, which is made available from recovered criminal assets to help in crime prevention or help reduce the fear of crime in the community.

The 2018/2019 Assets Recovery Community Scheme (ARCS) will mean that a total of £5m of criminal assets will have been distributed to the community since the scheme began in 2012.

The initiative allows cash received from the payment of confiscation orders to be invested into projects tackling crime in communities here.

Organisations applying for funding must clearly demonstrate how they will directly benefit victims, communities or the environment.

Department of Justice permanent secretary Nick Perry is encouraging eligible groups to consider how, working together, they can best use this year's money.

"The support available in ARCS is the result of successful prosecution and convictions of criminals," he said.

"Those who disregard the law, cheat and rob victims have no place in our society.

"Law enforcement agencies are continually improving their efforts to identify and confiscate profits and assets gained through illegal activity such as drug dealing, benefit and tax fraud and money laundering; these are criminal profits that might contribute to further harm in communities if no action was taken."

Twelve young people from across Greater Belfast and Lisburn are among those who have benefited directly from the scheme.

The teenagers, aged between 13 and 17, recently completed a motorbike awareness project, an initiative championed by the MCE Ulster Grand Prix to encourage the safe use of off-road motorbikes.

Supported by the PSNI, the 12-week cross-community educational pilot scheme was the first of its kind here. It took place at David Wood House in the MCE Ulster Grand Prix paddock at Dundrod and was delivered by Cornerstone Off-Road Motorcycle Academy.

Learning included a combination of classroom and practical workshop sessions that taught the group bike safety and riding skills.

The participants have all received certification in emergency first aid at work, a Motor Cycle Union of Ireland marshal certificate along with basic maintenance and riding skills.

The idea behind the scheme was to help reduce the ongoing anti-social problem of the illegal, damaging and potentially dangerous use of scramblers on open ground by educating the young people in motorbike safety.

Application forms are available from the Department of Justice website and the closing date for applications is September 3.

Belfast Telegraph

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